As I’m sure it does for you, waking up on September 11th immediately brings forth an intense spark of emotions that are as raw and ragged as they were on that day that changed the lives of nearly everyone across the globe forever.
I wasn’t a parent on September 11 in 2001, so I was surprised by the new sense of sorrow that I felt on the first anniversary of 9/11 after I’d given birth. Everyone says that once you have a child, you experience everything around you differently, and I prepared for that, but I have to admit that I’d not given thought to moments like this and what my duty as a parent were when it came to passing down my witness to the events that unfolded that day.
9/11 will likely remain a mystery to me…not the events that occurred, but who knew what, and why and how is violence the answer to solve problems? I also evolved that day; I learned that I breathe freedom, I think liberty, I pursue happiness and I bleed oil alongside the red, white and blue.
Not being a mother that day, I mostly processed it as a horrific attack upon America without delving into the core of the reasoning~but, like all parents, one day your child will begin to speak and grow and become curious and undoubtedly they will ask you an innocent question: Why?
Hearing that simple question from my daughter for the first time broke my heart in places that I didn’t think were left to break. “I don’t know, love” was all I could muster the first time. Her query made me want to give her a better answer, and after much soul-searching, I arrived at an answer that I hope will help her comprehend it in the future. I believe that it is a great responsibility for those of us that are parents to teach our children not only about what we know absolutely, but what we do not know as well.
I’ve decided to tell her the story of what happened that day so that should she pass that recollection onto children that she chooses to bear, it will touch not only upon the loss and devastation that were felt that day, but also upon the moments that followed when people were united as a race: no boundaries, no race, no evil could conquer the basic good and decency that lies within our fellow global citizens.
The acts of terror that were carried out that day were meant to break America; they were meant to terrify the world into submission; they were meant to prey upon the deepest-seeded fears of individuals in an effort to drive hope and meaning from their lives. In reality, even in the midst of the initial attacks, a unity and solidarity was born that exemplified the best in humankind.
I will teach my child about this world that we live in and I will not omit the parts of it that make it difficult and frightening. I will also teach my child about all of the tremendous stories of compassion and kindness that occurred. I will take my child to the 9/11 Memorial and she will trace her fingertips across the names of those who died that day. I will weep openly as she does those things, for I need her to know that despite the great pain that the memory of September 11th evokes, that despite the fears and the wake of sorrow that it left behind, I can still feel the feel the hope that arose from that rubble.
I believe that it’s important for us to teach the generations that follow not only the factual history, but the way that the history impacted us. I believe that it is important that she know that there are some moments that appear so impossible to navigate that they immediately alter your world forever, but that those moments are navigable and can bring forth the best within everyone, as long as we refuse to let darkness win.